November 25, 2016

Cornucopia / Cynthia Dewes

One day after Thanksgiving, but we’re still thankful

Cynthia DewesThe actual feast of Thanksgiving is past, but there’s still plenty to be thankful for. It sure doesn’t seem like it sometimes, what with politics and greed and self-centeredness all about us. Still, we should think about it.

Personally, I’ve always been grateful that I was born in the United States of America. As a woman and a religious practitioner, I felt supported and even respected by our system of government. To me, patriotism meant being vigilant in preserving the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.

It also meant not abusing what are our rights. I believe we have a right to protest this or that, but not to burn a flag or riot or disrespect authority just because we feel like it. At the same time, we have the responsibility to make changes when they are necessary, as in finally creating civil rights laws after a century of immoral segregation. We hope to reverse other bad rulings such as Roe v. Wade, and must work to do so.

We have the right “to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” That means life, period. And liberty, when it does not infringe on the rights of others. And the pursuit of happiness, not the assurance of it.

I’m also grateful for the abundance we enjoy as Americans. This means the many opportunities we have to gain education and satisfying work and to serve others. Most of us enjoy abundant creature comforts as well: adequate housing, good food and available health care. But it is also our duty to make sure that everyone in our society shares these advantages. The poor may be always with us, but we should still try to whittle down their numbers.

I am eternally thankful for my parents and extended family who have given me constant and uncritical love and support. Their example makes it possible for the love and concern to go on and be shared with subsequent generations, friends, neighbors, colleagues at work and fellow parishioners. Even sales clerks and the mailman should be included. Whoever’s on the scene.

Thanksgiving for books and music are high on my list, too. Even when old age threatens our enjoyment of these things, there are ways to enjoy them. There are talking book services if you can’t see, and tactile ways to experience music if you can’t hear. Best of all, there can be personal contacts with others to enrich our spare time, especially when most of our time is spare.

The computer and smart phones and the other ubiquitous “devices” are things to be grateful for. Used with care, they can be a godsend for work and social contact. They don’t provide the intimacy we all need, but they are helpful. And I’m grateful for my sense of humor, which allows me to deal with all the new things that appear as we speak.

Most of all, I’m thankful for the faith which has sustained me all my life. From the time I was a tot hiding under the piano at Sunday School until today, I have believed in the God who loves me.

The pilgrims held the first Thanksgiving feast to thank God for their survival in a new land. Indeed, we are all pilgrims making our way through the land of life toward the promised land in heaven. And, like the first pilgrims, we have God on our side.

(Cynthia Dewes, a member of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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